During a four-hour road trip with my boss this summer, I was asked if I liked beer. He meant the question in a millenialized-Boston-craft-brewery type of way, and I awkwardly responded that no, I did not like the few sips I have had (none of which would count as beer to him). My 23-year-old housemate attempted to share his love of beer with me, but it went in one ear and out the other. Hence, while being fully integrated into the UK’s pub culture, I’ve been devoted to learning about beer and finding one I actually enjoy. In honor of my 21st birthday, I will be sharing my hard-earned knowledge with the Tufts community.
The beer journey begins in a pub. Most pubs, assuming that they aren’t too busy and serving during a World Cup match, will be happy to give you little sips of the different ciders and beers on tap. Ciders are a great place to start. Some are syrupy sweet, others are crisper. I, personally, tend to lean toward the crisper options, so Strongbow has been my default on tap or canned at Tesco.
Early on in the semester, I tried a sip of a friend’s Guinness. Apparently the Guinness in Dublin is better, but I was not a fan of the version at The Lord Tredegar, the homely little pub 15 minutes from campus, complete with both a garden and a black pub cat.
By October, I was ready to advance my beer game, and what better way is there to do that than with a Groupon brewery tour and tasting? I arrived with the same friend who let me sneak a sip of Guinness, both of us (accidentally) on empty stomachs and trying to eat enough crisps on the bus to amend our mistake (the attempt was futile). Unsure if I would remember this educational experience, I typed my takeaways into the Notes app.
Thankfully, I can tell you the tale of West Coast IPAs and East Coast IPAs (yes, American west coast and east coast, and yes, more Midwest erasure). We squished hops pellets between our figures and learned the words to describe the visual, the smell, the mouth feel, the type of bitterness.
My personal hall of fame includes: some form of matcha sour I found at a theater, a Rhubarb & Tonka Oat Cream Pale Ale (creamy because of the oat), Edinburgh’s Not Milk Stout and a biting Blackberry Lemon Meringue Drizzle.
These are the fun, ~quirky~, indie beers and are far less likely to be found on tap at a pub. My palate has since expanded to include most IPAs, and now, even the occasional lager.
Celebrating 21st birthdays abroad is a little anticlimactic. As I get a year older, I recognize the inevitability of discussing beer in corporate America.